I love spending time in international airports. The rush of people from all sorts of places, heading to all sorts of places, is extremely stimulating. I’ll arrive a few hours before a flight if I can, just to drink a cappuccino, watch people and enjoy the atmosphere.
In India, I find myself in more domestic than international airports. Domestic airports are a little less polished than their international counterparts, and host a smaller variety of foreigners. Nonetheless, a huge number of visitors pass through domestic airports in India every day. Of these people, certain characters are ubiquitous:
Businessmen travelling for work make up a large percentage of people in a domestic airport at any given time. The sex ratio is skewed in favour of men compared to international airports, probably because of these guys. They range from shabbily to impeccably dressed, and could be working from their iPhones and munching on veg puffs from the CCD kiosk, or falling asleep in the waiting area with their heads lolling. Like Sonia Faleiro said, “no kalass.”
Too many staff.
At times, there are more staff people in domestic airports than those coming to travel. Maids in bathrooms hover to pass you a paper towel and male officials and clerks lean against counters and chat. The security women who scan female passengers aren’t busy enough, due to the aforementioned skewed sex ratio. They have names like Rinky Jadhav and Smita Devi Kumari, and their beauty is not complemented by their khaki uniforms and badges.
Foxy air hostesses.
Air hostesses in India range from unusually attractive to downright stunning. They wear tights over their nonexistent calves, short skirts and eyeliner like Bipasha Basu. Of particular interest are the IndiGo hostesses, who cover their real hair with cute bobbed wigs and wear red lipstick. In the bathroom, I witnessed one use a pencil to draw a fake beauty spot on her cheek. After touching up their makeup, they trounce as a pack through the airport, rolling luggage in tow, drawing attention from everyone in the vicinity.
Tourists, especially budget travellers, are omnipresent in domestic airports. Most travel by plane only between major cities, and otherwise rely on trains and buses. These are generally young people on spiritual journeys. They’re often reading new age philosophy books and wearing ali baba pants and dreadlocks, less groomed even than the shabbily dressed businessmen who are at least wearing a proper pant-shirt-belt combination, shined shoes and combed, parted hair.
Instantly recognizable in airports all over India. Their shorts are from Palladium; their hairclips and blackberry covers from Linking Road. They carry sparkly floppy bags and flaunt studded flip flops, costume jewellery and a movie star attitude. The male Bandra girl equivalent is the Lokhandwala boy, usually wearing a toque, a scarf, or sunglasses, or all of the above.
In every domestic airport, there is a mandatory pigeon, crow or colony of pigeons/crows that has gotten stuck inside and is flying around fruitlessly looking for the exit.
Honeymooning couples are a trademark in domestic airports, and can be seen awkwardly taking photos of one another in front of the flight timing screens, kingfisher logos or with air hostesses, using cameras or mobile phones. They are adorable. Next time you visit a domestic airport in India, see if you can spot them all!
Photo credit: Rebecca Neubert